My wife and I are not live-aboards, but I can answer some of your questions.I'm talking monohull
. No experience with catamarans.
I recommend a center cockpit. That gives you at once a three cabin layout—a large aft cabin for the owner(s), the central salon-galley area, and a forward berth with head for guests or storage
. If you have guests, that gives you space between you and the guests, hence privacy for both. It is a bit steep on the companionway
steps, an inherent vice in a center cockpit boat, but well-worth it in my opinion. And we are on the north side of 60.
With a boat between 40-50, you will get two heads—one en-suite in the aft-owner cabin, and the other up front for guests and day time use. If the boat is greater than 45' long, you will also probably get a third stateroom—usually bunk beds—up front. Good for storage and children
. Our cats sail with us, so the bunk room becomes the storage and cat room.
What I urge is to look carefully at the salon
layout. We once had a lovely 38’ boat with a wonderful layout except that the salon table was a drop leaf table in the center of the boat. One could not walk around it without bumping into it. A poor location. And that was with the leafs down. Our current
46’ boat has a U-shape table (that seats several and can expand for more) to port as one comes down the companionway. The center area of the salon leading to the front stateroom, the bunk room, and the forward head is not restricted. To starboard, we have two seats separated by a table (under which is the wine cabinet). The seats look like arm chairs but the cushions
can be lifted out of the frame and taken over to the salon table as ottoman seats. They have castors for feet. Clever. At anchor
, one can sit in either of those two seats and read the newspaper or a book in a very comfortable manner-just like home. Makes a long wait at anchor
or in port for weather
very endurable. The galley is U-shape and to starboard behind the companionway. Stove
, work areas, and storage outside along the hull
; frig and freezer
on an aft bulkhead, and inside under the companionway are work areas and a double sink and microwave.
The nav station and wet locker are to port as one comes down the companionway—aft of the U-shape eating area, and behind them is the passageway to the aft cabin. There is a pilot berth on the port side along the hull
in the passageway going to the aft cabin with lockers underneath. I have seen people use that area for a watermaker. Opposite the pilot berth is access (two doors) to the engine room. It is a real engine room under the cockpit. Access from three sides. The generator
and battery charger
are there as well. I do not have an inverter
, but there is room there for one. Aft is a queen-berth and on the starboard side of the boat, opposite where the passageway is on port, is the aft head with a separate shower
The layout works well for two and company. Four people can easily eat at the table in our cockpit—6 down below in the salon. The cockpit in any center cockpit boat will be small but only compared to an aft-cockpit boat, but be sure the tallest in your company can layout and snooze. Otherwise I'm not sure you need more area.
Ours is a shoal draft
keel (5’3”) with a skeg mounted rudder
, which works well in the Chesapeake Bay
, our cruising grounds. I’m sure there is a small speed or sailing penalty compared to the full fin keel of 6’, but I have never noticed it. If you are even thinking the Bay and the Bahamas
, go shoal keel
On deck, we do not have a pilot house, but I do have a hard dodger
and a full cockpit enclosure, which in effect is the same as a pilot house. The nice part about the cockpit enclosure and hard dodger
is that in nice weather we can roll up the canvas
sides, and in the evening, roll down the screens to keep the bugs out while leaving the isinglass up and letting air blow through. In a blow, the hard dodger is like a pilot house--mine even has windshield wipers! Two people can easily sail the boat.
Tankage is 200 gal of water; 100 fuel. We have furling sails
all around—main, staysail and yankee. Yes, roller furling
can jam and that is a concern, but once up in the spring, they are up! One can get around this by having a power winch
on the mast
. The roller furling
means one does not have to go forward in crummy conditions, a good thing when short-handed or in the dark. It makes it easy to reef whether in a blow or just for a night sail. I have power primary winches (not a mast
one, alas), and while nice, I do not use them that much except to send someone up the mast. Power windlass
and a bowthruster—both a must. We have a/c as well—again, a must in the Bay in the summer. The chart plotter is at the helm
and the navigation
instruments over the companionway. One drives the boat at the helm—the instruments need to be visible there. On my previous boat, there was a repeater chart plotter at the nav station—I never used it. Waste of money
. The radios (VHF and HF) are below at the nav station, but I have a ram mic for the VHF
at the helm
should be at the helm or have a RAM mic there. Running below to send or receive a radio
message is time-consuming and unnecessary.
We have davits
for the dinghy
. Towing a dinghy runs the risk of losing it w/o being aware until too late, plus drag. Davits
are easier than stowing it on deck. We have two folding bikes we bring along, and I lash them to the pushpit. I keep them in bags—does wonders for limiting corrosion
Ours is a heavy, stiff boat--15 tons. Cutter rigged. Don't fly the staysail for speed--too much trouble. I use it when the wind
gets over 25 knots, dropping the yankee. Straightens the boat, no loss of speed.
Be happy to send photos or discuss more via PM.